Henna is an art form that's celebrated and adorned by many. It's existed for centuries and will continue to exist for more centuries to come.
But what is henna anyway?
For the newbies who don't know, henna is powdered leaves from the tropical shrub scientifically known as Lawsonia iermis and is often mixed with water or lemon juice, sugar and essential oils.
You can actually find a sample recipe by clicking here, but fact of the matter is, much like baking a chocolate cake, there's an array of different recipes to make henna.
After the paste is formed, artists will cone it up and apply art patterns and designs on the skin, leaving a beautiful stain (much like the image below).
There are many rumours and myths spread about henna, so I wanted to set the record straight :)
Here are 9 of the most common henna beliefs outlining whether it's fact or fiction, so let's dive in...
1) HENNA IS BLACK
I just want to crawl under a rock! Henna is NEVER EVER black! As a matter of fact, black henna is extremely dangerous because it contains super harmful chemicals like PPD which poses as a serious health hazard to your skin and internal organs.
There have been reports of chemical burns and skin irritations caused by black henna, typically sold in small Indian and South Asian stores. So henna cones like Kaveri and Golecha are 100% UNNATURAL & EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.
The Global News also reported that 20,000 black henna cones were recalled over chemical burn concerns.
Real organic and safe henna is only ever brown in colour. Period :)
2) HENNA STAINS INSTANTLY
If your henna stains instantly, there's 99.9999% chance that it's chemically produced. This would be a serious cause for alarm.
Natural organic henna takes up to 2 - 3 days for the stain to reach its maturity.
There's a progression for henna to take its full mature stain, as seen below...
The good news, is that there are super easy at home tactics to elevate your henna stain. You can check for yourself in this video below.
3) HENNA CAN LAST UP TO A MONTH
Obviously, depending on the body part, intricacy of the design and how good the henna paste is, henna could last up to a month on the body. However...
Henna stains will typically (on average) last 1 - 3 weeks
It's not very common to have henna lasting up to a month, but make no mistake, it is possible.
In fact, this henna design I drew on my thigh lasted exactly an entire month! This was a result of the placement of the design (on my thigh which is not as exposed as other body parts) and the fact that I used super high quality henna powder from Stain Henna Art.
4) NATURAL HENNA IS UNSAFE
Total myth buster. Let me stress NATURAL ORGANIC HENNA is completely safe, BLACK HENNA isn't.
In fact, natural henna has medicinal properties that relieves headaches and stress, as well as being a hair strengthener.
It's so safe to the degree that henna is done on cancer patients undergoing chemo and pregnant woman similarly to the design I've done below...
5) HENNA IS INVENTED BY SOUTH ASIANS
It's true that henna bas been popularized amongst the South Asian communities for Indian and Pakistani weddings, but believe it or not, they're not the ones who invented it.
It's not clearly known exactly how henna started or who founded it, but early documentations show that henna could be dated all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians.
Based on Noam Sienna's research (a henna artist and researcher) henna has also appeared in the bible "as well as in other Semitic texts of the ancient Near East"
There were also reports that henna was first discovered when people in tropical climates would rub it on their skin to act as a cooling agent, to prevent from over heating.
Photo Credit: Noam Sienna
So there's no one solid clarification, but henna is a beautiful art form that made this world a prettier place.
6) NATURAL HENNA IS DIRT DIRT CHEAP
If you get your hands on dirt cheap henna it either means that:
It's fake or not natural henna
It's way passed its expiration and should not be applied on the body
That's not to say that it's not affordable (because it is), but a well natural ingredient sourced henna cone will typically cost up to $5 per cone.
Fake henna cones like Golecha and Kaveri are cheap because they're mass produced, but natural henna never is and never could be produced in the same quantities.
Natural henna is ALWAYS mixed by hand (usually from the artist's home). There's a lot of time and labour that goes into them which is why they'll slightly cost a bit more.
FROM STARVING ARTIST TO FULL-TIME HENNA PRO
7) NATURAL HENNA COMES IN DIFFERENT COLOURS
We kind of briefed on this already, haven't we? Or maybe you dozed off, no worries though!
Natural Henna is ONLY EVER BROWN. It does not come in any other colour.
Any artist that promises you otherwise either doesn't know any better or is ripping you off.
However, there are things like white henna and jagua that produce different colours. They're not henna though.
White henna is body paint with adhesive and doesn't stain the skin. Once scraped off, the design is gone.
Jagua is a different story. It's juice extracted from a fruit sourced in South America. It gives off a blueish/blackish tone, and yep, it's totally safe.
8) HENNA IS ONLY DONE AT WEDDINGS
Let's not mix this up :) henna is definitely popularized in weddings and is embedded in many wedding traditions.
But henna can be applied pretty much anywhere anytime ;)
Henna can actually be a mental treatment for people who are self scarring, cancer patients who need their spirits to be lifted or women who want to celebrate their pregnancies.
Back then there was actually a movement called Henna Heals who exclusively adorned cancer patients with hair loss. Doesn't it look beautiful?
There are many reasons to get henna, and this link shows you why.
9) THE DARKER THE HENNA, THE MORE BLISSFUL THE MARRIAGE
It's commonly believed in the South Asian community that the darker the bridal henna stain, the more prosperous and blessed the marriage is.
There are also ties to believing that a dark stain is an indication for the mother-in-law that the bride is a good suitor for her son.
While entertaining, it's a superstition.
But a little unknown fun fact, brides usually hide the groom's initials in her mehndi as a way to break the ice, given the night of the wedding is supposedly the first time they meet in arranged marriages.
And there you have it, the 9 myths or facts totally debunked :)
What are your thoughts? Any common myths you hear of as well? Share it in the comments below...